What is the cost of a commute?
The average Australian spends $122 on commuting costs every week. How much could you be saving by switching to public transport?
Whether you hop on a ferry in Sydney Harbour, slip into a packed Melbourne tram or drive through Adelaide's hilly suburbs, commuting to work is part of most people's daily routine.
We explored how much Australians are spending on their daily commute, the cost of taking public transport versus driving and how our commuting habits have changed.
How much do Australians spend on commuting costs?
According to Finder analysis, the average person spends approximately $122 per week on commuting costs – equivalent to $5,388 per year once public holidays, annual leave and sick leave are taken into account. This includes $66 for fuel, but toll roads, parking and other car ownership costs like car insurance are excluded. Meanwhile, public transport costs Australians $46 per week on average.
We also calculated how much walking and cycling costs you based on caloric output – a single calorie costs around 0.4 cents on average. For the average person, this translates to a cost of $4.82 per week for walking and $1.57 for riding their bike or scooter.
How much does it cost to take public transport to work?
The cost of a commute varies by city and can cost as much as $214.80 per week if you're travelling through all 8 zones in Brisbane – though this would take you over 3 hours each way.
Public transport can cost just $32 per week in Sydney (for less than 3km travelled by bus) or $33 in Perth (for zone 1 travel) and $31 per week in Melbourne (for zone 2 travel).
In Adelaide, transport fares stay the same regardless of distance travelled, excluding off-peak and concession fares.
Is it cheaper to take public transport or to drive to work?
To catch the train or to drive in the comfort of your own car? It's a common dilemma and there are pros and cons to both options. In the winter, waiting for your train or bus could have you shivering outside in the cold, but driving usually comes out as the pricier option – especially if you have to pay for parking.
We calculated the cost of driving to work versus taking public transport from major outer city suburbs in several cities.
How have fuel prices changed Australian driving habits?
The price of fuel fell by 4% in the September quarter of 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index. This reduced petrol-related stress for some Australians. In July 2022, 34% of people ranked petrol as 1 of their top 3 most stressful expenses. This dropped to 26% in March 2023, according to Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker.
However, petrol prices and the cost of living are still high compared to 2021. As a result, some Australians are cutting back on driving to bring down their fuel expenses. One-quarter (25%) are walking more frequently, 14% are taking public transport more frequently and 5% are riding their bike more frequently.
The majority of consumers (55%) have not changed their driving habits. A further 1% say they drive an electric car and are therefore unaffected by fuel prices.
Almost 12% of Australians don't own a car, narrowing down their commuting options significantly. Of those without a car, 37% are close to public transport and 28% say a car is too expensive to run and maintain.
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